Cannonball Read IV: The Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning by Hallgrímur Helgason
The Icelandic title is along the lines of “10 tips to stop killing people and start doing the dishes”
Tomislav, aka Toxic, is a hitman for the Croatian mafia in New York. He is living the high life and takes great pride in his perfect record as a contract killer. But when a hit goes seriously wrong, everybody seems to be after him - friend and foe alike. Through a series of rather disturbing but hilarious events, Toxic ends up on a plane to Reykjavík.
Toxic is completely out of his element in Iceland - stuck in a country with no guns to buy and where murder is rare, what is a contract killer to do? And to top it all off, his new identity is an American televangelist, Father Friendly, who is expected to appear on Icelandic television to preach the good word.
There are some very funny culture-clash situations - initially around Toxic being a Croatian living in NYC and then as an Croatian/American in Iceland. Interesting to see how the Icelandic author views his own culture through the eyes of Toxic.
Toxic is the perfect anti-hero. He is not a good man by any stretch of the imagination, but you cannot help but root for him. He has a very strong personal moral code, its just a bit off-kilter in comparison to most.
Once Toxic gets to Iceland, he reflects more and more on his past in Croatia, as a soldier in the Bosnian war and finally as a contract killer. And matching Toxic’s change in career and lifestyle, the pace of the book starts off a bit frenetic and mellows to a nice comfortable pace.
This is a very funny and rather dark tragicomedy. Helgason wrote this book in English as opposed to it being translated. His skills with the English language truly shine in this story. I found myself re-reading sections simply to enjoy how cleverly his words were strung together. Highly recommended!
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